Earnie’s Cooking School — Brunswick Stew

We like to come up with all sorts of engaging activites for our residents at Windwood Trail Haus.  Earnie’s homework, and activity in the Day Room on Monday, was making her famous Brunswick Stew. 

When I was growing up she made this all the time.  It never occurred to me that when I be-bopped into her room Sunday night to give Earnie her little last call cookie that she would look at me blankly when I suggested she make it for Monday’s dinner.  She said it had been so long since she made it she wasn’t sure what the ingredients were.  Actually, I don’t recall her making it since she and Ray moved in back in 2007.

Earnie has a stock pile of recipes in a box.  All kinds, mostly ones she has cut out from the paper over the years.  I suggested she take a look see in her box of recipes and maybe that might trigger it for her.  Good brain work going on here, I was thinking.  She found the recipe, although I am not sure it’s the actual one she used to prepare.  But, it’s pretty close.

Apparently, Earnie stayed up until 2 a.m. looking for the damn recipe.  Meanwhile, she was doing something to her computer.  It was about that time that I was woken up from a sound sleep hearing the musical stylings of Susan Boyle down in Earnie’s room.  I had all four cats on top of me and even they were jolted from sleep.  They flew off the bed, while I sat straight up thinking maybe I had died in the night and this was the introductory song they sing as you enter the gates of heaven.  I’m sure my hair looked a fright, too.   I didn’t see Jesus anywhere, so I figured I was still alive.  After about 3 minutes of this musical snack, I got out of bed thinking, “I know Earnie has hearing loss, but geesh, this is loud.”  I started to make my way out of the room and she must have figured out how to turn it off.  When I left for work, I left her this note:

Back to the stew…We had hot, steaming bowls of this last night for dinner with Miss Bee’s cornbread.  The cool front had blown in so it was a perfect night for Earnie’s stew.  Susan Boyle didn’t make an encore performance last night so it was a good night’s sleep for everyone.

The Invisible Thread

My church lady friends and I were sitting around one day last month talking about what our book selection should be for our November meeting.  One of my friends, whom I shall not name, said, “oh, do we have to actually read a book?”  Raise your hand if sometimes the last thing you want to do is read?  I’ve gotten lately where I am sometimes too tired to even read Good Housekeeping magazine.  We said, “yes, (insert name), we do.”  Preacher lady recommended An Invisible Thread in the spirit of Thanksgiving.

 

It’s a true story written by Laura Schroff about her friendship with Maurice, an 11-year old panhandler, and how their unlikely meeting on the streets of New York city transformed their lives.

 

There were parts of it that were hard to read.  She shares her stories of living with an abusive, alcoholic father, and the death of her mother.  She shares the story of Maurice and how he was left on his own to survive.  But the story is also uplifting and warm.  When you finish the book, you want to do your part to make a difference in someone’s life.  It’s a beautiful, touching, loving work.

 

“An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet,
regardless of time, place and circumstance.  The thread
may stretch or tangle.  But it will never break.”
Old Chinese Proverb

Dressing – not just for eating

Each year, at Thanksgiving, I plan two things:  First, reading magazines and cookbooks for a new cornbread dressing to make, and the second, how to dress my table for the big day.

In the south we don’t stuff our turkeys, so we call it dressing.   I loved Earnie’s version growing up but she made hers with a little of this, a pinch of that, kind of hard to replicate.  When I lived on the east coast for a stint in my younger days, it was tradition to make oyster stuffing since oysters were plentiful along the shore.  Just give this southern gal cornbread dressing please.

My recent issue of Country Living magazine had a several page spread of traditional Thanksgiving recipes.  The cutie pie Beekman Boys shared their version of the perfect carb loader with your side of roasted turkey…

I think when I make it I will crumble the cornbread rather than keep it in chunks.

As far as dressing the table, I have been saving a few photos I’ve seen on line for ideas.  I have a huge rosemary bush off the lanai.  I think I may tie up the silverware into bundles like this..

You could even add little tags with fun questions for each guest to share over dinner.
I have aged bronze chargers from my Southern Living at Home days that I may paint with chalkboard paint and write each person’s name.

For the beverage station (hopefully my rolling cart will be done by then) I have been hearting these adorable holiday beverage tags from Ballard Designs. 

What will you do this season to make your guests feel special?

“As soon as I get home from a day of work, I bathe, brush my hair,
 put on fresh makeup, and slip into a hostess gown.”  Loretta Young, actress

Frame Your Thanks

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love the food (everytime I go to Luby’s I eat turkey and dressing).  I love the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  I love it when it’s cold outside, but this year if it’s nice we might sit on the lanai for our meal with the fire going.  If I can talk Mr. Bee into it, I would love to install an outdoor tv monitor on the porch for watching the TCU vs UT game.  Sip cider and cheer on the Frogs.

On my desk I usually try to have a phrase or subway art framed for the season.  This Thanksgiving subway art can be found on Eighteen25.  Click on the link and it will take you directly there.

Happy Thanksgiving, ya’ll.

Buzz on Southfork Ranch

I took a tour group to Southfork Ranch on Tuesday.  In all the years of watching the old, and now new, series I never took a trip there.  I highly recommend going.  The staff were very welcoming and the property is lovely. 

When the series debuted in 1978, the home was owned by a family so only exterior shots were allowed.  The interior shots were taken at a sound stage in Culver City, California.  Now with the series renewal, everything is shot in Dallas; both on the Southfork property and in a sound stage in Dallas.

Here’s the back patio near the pool.  This is where the Ewings would gather in the mornings for breakfast.  Remember Miss Ellie asking Teresa for some eggs for Bobby?  I didn’t take a photo of the infamous pool because it was covered for a scene they are shooting tomorrow (we missed seeing the cast by one day!).

The Dining Room where many a close, family dinner was held. 

Jock’s photo above the fireplace.

Lucy’s bedroom.  I think the signage on her dressing table was supposed to be a little tongue-in-cheek.

Jock and Miss Ellie’s bedroom.  The thing that several of us said as we were standing around looking at each room  is that logically we know there is no Ewing family living here.  But, it seemed very invasive walking around seeing things and seeing the character’s photos.  Almost as if they were going to walk in from the pasture or Tom Thumb while we were there.

The house is not as large by today’s standards.  But for the 70s, when the house was originally built, it was considered a palace.  It has changed owners several times over the years.  The most recent owners purchased the house in 1992 and it was totally redone.  It’s still a step back in the 80s.

A view of the foyer and staircase.

JR’s bedroom.  A gigantic platform bed right in the middle of the room and a champagne bucket handy next to the bed for closing those “deals.”

And his trademark hat and smile on the wall.

The master bath was totally surrounded in mirrors.  Mirrors everywhere.  You have to have quite a positive outlook on your body to bathe in this place or wear a mask over your eyes.

This is the exterior front shot of the house. 

As we rode away on a tram being pulled by a John Deere tractor, I could hear JR saying “Ya’ll come back now, you hear.” 

A Perfect Fall Brunch Recipe

I coordinated a breakfast for a large group at work today and had the caterer make this Pillsbury recipe for Bacon Quiche Biscuit Cups.  They were delish.  This is an easy recipe for your next brunch.  I think kids would like them and the recipe is flexible enough that you could change up the cheese or meat.   We served them with pumpkin muffins, mixed berries, juice and hazelnut coffee.

The florist made this autumnal centerpiece for us…

Did you notice what the vase is made out of?  I tree trunk!

I can’t wait to deconstruct it to see how he made it.  Have a fab Friday.

Make an Entrance — Tips for Getting Your Porch Ready

What does your front porch say to your guests?  Come on in…go away…this house is vacant…or come around the back?

During this transition of September to October, I decorate my front porch with my alma mater, TCU, spirit.  I have a rustic pot stuffed with purple and white pom poms, pennants and white and purple twirly twigs.  I even put a verse from a school cheer on the chalkboard.  Add a few pots of ferns, some pansies, and a cozy place to sit.

Your front porch tells a story to your visitors.  Even if you don’t have time to do full-on decor like Martha, just put out a few pots of mums and a pumpkin, or two.  Be creative with the containers you already have around.  I took a pair of rain boots and stuffed them with purple and white mums.

I have a wrought iron table on the porch topped with a piece of vintage marble from the 4617 days.  I happen to have an outlet on the porch, which I think it a must, and put a lamp on it.  I love the coziness of the lamp instead of the porch light.

Now that we are approaching that time of the year with lots of parties and friends stopping by, here are a few tips to help you make an entrance…

  • Stand out on your porch and take a survey of what people see.  Get the broom out and sweep away dirt and cobwebs around the doors, windows and porch roof.  Sweep the porch.
  • Clean the windows.  Those Windex bottles you can attach to your outside hose work wonders.
  • Clean out the light fixure glass.  The moths in there have gone on to their great reward a long time ago.  Replace blown out light bulbs.
  • Do you need to get a new door mat?  Does it need to be cleaned with the hose?  Clean it while you’re doing the windows.
  • If you have cushions on the porch do they need to be cleaned, hosed off, or replaced?
  • Clean the tops of any surfaces, like tables, you might have on the porch.  Clean the porch furniture.
  • Throw away dead plants that didn’t survive the summer.  Replace with pansies and mums that love the fall and the latter can be replanted in your garden when winter arrives.
  • Do the fixtures or mailbox need to be repainted or touched up?  A simple can of spray paint can make your fixtures look brand new.
  • Are your house numbers in need of updating or repainting?  About once a month, a guy comes by our house asking if we want our house numbers at the curb touched up.  I had Leen the Graphics Queen do our house number in vinyl lettering.
  • Is the door clean?  Are their hand, paw, or shoes prints on the door.  Get out the 409 and give the door a good cleaning.  If you have a storm door like me, I trained Miss Bee along time ago to clean the glass.

Most of these tasks will take 45 minutes.  Teach your kids to do some of them while you sit back and read People magazine.

How will you welcome the first day of fall this Saturday?

A Sweet Story

During a visit to see bestie this summer, she treated me and Miss Bee to a Gigi’s cupcake.  Cue angels singing when I walked into the bakery.  This was my kind of heaven.  Recently, while I was waiting for a doctor to see Earnie, I read a story about the Gigi’s Cupcakes founder.

While Gigi was running her cleaning business, her brother inspired her to open a cupcake bakery.  Even though she had good credit and money in her savings, all four banks she approached turned her down.  She took out a $100,000 credit on her four credit cards, started her cupcake venture, meanwhile was running her cleaning company to put food on the table.  Opening on February 21, 2008 three weeks later she had made enough money to pay her rent.  Now with 51 franchise locations across the US, she’s doing pretty well.

I loved the set up of the bakery from the display down to the packaging.

 
 

 
 
In Horton’s world everyone is a pony, and they all eat rainbows, and poop butterflies.  In my world two inches of frosting is required on all cake.  The end.




The House That Love Built

Meadowbrook-House0003
4617 Meadowbrook Drive

This is where it all began for me. 4617 Meadowbrook Drive.  Everything that I am started in this house.   Two parents and three siblings that loved me beyond measure.  My love of God, family and friends is all rooted from this place.  I am so blessed that I had such a magical childhood of playing in the backyard, birthday parties, holiday celebrations, yummy meals every night around the table, a Daddy and Mother that worked as partners to provide for our family, and siblings that geniunely loved me and wanted to spend time with me.

“There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained.” Winston Churchill

One-Eyed Pirates

 
 
 
 
Before I left for vacation I made a huge loaf of bread in the bread machine to make sandwiches for the road and to have the left over bread for toast.  Toward the end of our stay, we had several things left in the refrigerator I needed to use up.  So, I whipped up one of Mr. Bee’s childhood favorites — One-Eyed Pirates.
 
 

These are super simple to make.  Butter each slice of bread then cut a hole in the center of each piece of bread using a steak knife.  If you want to be precise you could use a cookie cutter.  Take the center out of each slice and put all the pieces of bread in the skillet, butter side down to toast.

After the slices of bread are brown and crispy (I’m in the mountains so everything cooks slower), crack an egg into each center.  Cook the eggs until they are done to your liking. I needed to use up some cheese we had in the refrigerator, so I added sliced white cheddar cheese on top of each egg, but you can leave the cheese off if you want.  Sprinkle some cracked, black pepper.

While the eggs were cooking I tossed in pre-cooked bacon to warm and crisp up.  I also broiled some sliced tomatoes sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Everything came out looking like this.

Breakfast:  It’s What’s for Dinner